Dr. Soloman Carter Fuller, born in Liberia in 1872, was the grandson of an American slave who had purchased his freedom and emigrated to Africa. Fuller was a graduate of Boston University Medical School and eventually worked as a pathologist at Westborough State Hospital for the Insane, becoming the nation's first black psychiatrist.
In 1904, German psychiatrist Dr. Alois Alzheimer invited five foreign doctors to be his graduate research assistants at the Royal Psychiatric Hospital in Munich. One of them was Dr. Fuller.
Alzheimer had already studied a 51-year-old patient who exhibited symptoms of what would later be called Alzheimer's disease. In 1907, Dr. Fuller examined the brain tissues of cadavers who had a variety of mental disorders and found plaques called amyloids in them. After more research, he found one that matched what Alzheimer had originally described. He wrote that the cases supported Alzheimer's discovery of a particular form of dementia and that it was not due to senility, but rather an actual disease.
In 1919, Fuller left Westborough for Boston University Medical School to teach pathology and worked there for 34 years until blindness caused by diabetes forced him to retire. Despite his condition, he practiced privately from his Boston home until he succumbed to his illness in 1953.
In 1974, in dedication to Fuller's work in neuropathology, Boston University opened the Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, which provides psychiatric outpatient services.
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